Adding a ribbon to your site

You may have spotted ribbons on the top right (or even, horror of horrors, on the top left) of some webpages. The trend started with charity ads but now loads of sites use them to link out to related content. Well the fabulous peeps at Quick Ribbon will make (and host) yours for you for free. Check out mine on the homepage (I’ve taken advantage of it to link out to my Twitter feed since I’m starting to use Twitter more and more these days).
Have fun making your own.

How To Market Your Startup – SEO On A Tight Budget

A year and a bit ago I attended BarCamp in Edinburgh. At the time I put together a short presentation (which I ended up not presenting due to personal time constraints) but a year on I thought I’d share my thoughts on how to market a product/service on a tight budget and with as little effort as possible.

When it comes to setting up and promoting a new site the key is working Search Engine Optimisation principles into your site from the start.

  • URL choice: with most startups the URL is an essential part of the name choice. For SEO I recommend doing a bit of Googling – don’t choose a name that about a million other companies share with you (if you can possibly help it). Hosting sites will tell you if domain names are available in bulk (so don’t spend ages going to a URL then changing the TLD (end bit) from .com to .co.uk to .org etc). Some of the domain name generators can be surprisingly good. Try to find something that sums up your product and is memorable.
  • Once you’ve bought your domain it’s time to put something up there. This is the point where lots of new sites often fail – do not put up a page saying coming soon or site under development. Instead you should put some real content – even if it’s just your initial sketch or an extract of a bit of code. You should start telling people about your product right from the start – there won’t be any hype if people don’t have anything to talk about! Google take a while to index sites so putting some keyword/brand name rich content up early on will help cement your site’s position in search engines.
  • Even if you only have a small amount of content and haven’t got much time or money you can still upload a free blogging platform with a basic template. People will happily look at your content even if it’s on a plain/boring looking site if you’ve got something interesting to say/show.
  • Don’t forget the basics – you really want people to be able to contact you. A contact form isn’t hard to put together but it’s surprising how many sites don’t even have an email address on them!
  • Word of mouth is a key part in promoting a new enterprise but it doesn’t have to be hard work (especially not if you’ve got something interesting on your hands). If you’re already on a social network then start by letting your friends and colleagues know about what you’re up to and move on from that and drop a polite email to sites that you think might be interested in featuring you: check out Technorati’s list of popular blogs if you need some help finding blogs in your desired market. If you put effort into slides, publicity, interviews or content make sure you blog about it and if another site is nice enough to write about you then link to their article and give some thanks for their love!

If you have any other comments about SEO on a budget or marketing a startup I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Bookmarklets Worth Checking Out

With the inception of websites providing services it’s become increasingly often that you’re on one site and want to do something to it’s content using the service of another site. The good news is that Bookmarklets can help you do this.

But how do Bookmarklets work?
Drag a Bookmarklet to your bookmarks bar and it will create a handy button to press when you’re in need. Click it and a little bit of JavaScript will work some magic. Try one of these bad boys out…

Google Translation
Drag your language to the tool bar and press it whenever you need to translate a webpage.

Share in Reader
Instead of blogging about a blog you can just share it with your Google Reader friends.

Bookmark it
Bookmark sites straight into your Google Bookmarks without having to install the Google Toolbar.

Make webpages more readable
Press the magic button and create text only versions of webpages.

Subscribe in Google Reader
Don’t spend ages looking for the RSS button.

Shorten that URL
Create short URLs for Twitter and the like.

For more info check out the Bookmarklets website.